Personal Essays by Gay Dads

This Dad Went 'Numb' After a Painful Failed Adoption, But Learned to Love Again

After a painful failed adoption that brought these gay dads to the brink of realizing their dream of fatherhood, Paul "went numb" for several months before trying, and succeeding, again

In the fall of 2010, what was suppose to be a non-committal daytime date in Seattle, ended up being 3 days of sharing life experiences, unpacking emotional luggage and the moment I realized I had met my future husband. Just under four years later, we were saying "I Do", and became Paul and Jamie Trudel-Payne.

Jamie, a devilishly handsome All-American freelance writer, came from a tightly woven, kind and virtuous household. While I, Paul, a cute (ish) bi-racial (Mexican/Caucasian) small business owner, came from a somewhat intrusive, rambunctious and very large Hispanic family. The desire and support received from both families was immense and just six months after being married, we began the adoption process.

Wearing rose-colored glasses we quickly learned that our adoption journey was going to be anything but rosy.


We threw everything we had at our profile: Jamie's writing skills to make a deep connection to a Birthmother, and my marketing skills with a highly sought after professional photographer. We were matched after only a few months, and began talking to a birthmother who was 6 months pregnant with a baby girl. The fairytale started in hyper-speed and we were decorating a nursery, filling her closet with every adorable little girl outfit we came into contact with and fighting over baby names just like every other parent-to-be.

There were some red flags along the way that we blindly ignored, talk of extra bills and Christmas gifts. But then her 9th month of pregnancy came and we were hit with a flag that was too large to ignore. She had found out I owned a real estate company, and sent a text asking us for a large sum of money to purchase a home, making sure to not leave out how we shouldn't mention any of this to the agency.

You can't imagine the feeling of someone asking you to put a price on a child that is in essence yours, not to mention a child due in just a few weeks. We felt paralyzed by the dilemma, but after a few days of running through every scenario, we knew there was only one decision we could ethically and legally make. We contacted our agency and made the insanely difficult decision to stop the adoption along with the communication. And then we closed the door to the fairytale that never was, along with the door to our never-to-be baby girls half decorated nursery.

Just a couple of weeks later what seemed like a miracle happened. The birthmother was in labor and she wanted to give us her daughter and be done. We were ecstatic! We flew out to PA on a red eye almost immediately and spent the next four days in the NICU with a beautiful baby girl, ensuring the methadone was no longer in her system. We named her, and fed her, and changed her and learned how to bathe her. The birthmother chose to not be involved and did not come around. We were there every day from morning til night.

We were scheduled to sign all final adoption documents with the birthmother at 11:30am on day four. At 11:01am we received a call from the hospitals social worker that the birthmother changed her mind, and there was nothing we could do. We called our lawyers who quickly confirmed the same and then I had to watch as my husband broke inside. Broke in a way that I have never seen before or since.

I made a decision in that moment that would give us the best chance to make it through this horrible circumstance. I decided to go numb. I couldn't let grief, or loss or anger to escape from my body in any way; if we wanted to make it out of there with any chance of recovery from this heartbreak. So shedding no tears, I quickly began to pack our things and arranged for us to leave that self-induced nightmare immediately.

We drove to the hospital to grab any remaining items, were allowed to give one quick kiss goodbye each, and then groggy with grief we found our way to the airport while booking seats on the first flight back to Seattle. And long after we boarded that flight, in the dead of night surrounded by strangers and recycled air. With Jamie passed out from grief next to me, I allowed myself to set the numbness aside and feel again. For just a few brief minutes, I let myself cry into the sleeve of my coat and say goodbye to the daughter we had just lost for a second time.

For about six months after returning home, I made the decision to not be involved in the adoption process any longer. I removed myself from our monthly check-ins, and decided to waste no more energy on a process that almost devastated us to the point of no return. It wasn't until the spring of 2016, that the Marketing Manager from the agency asked if he could come over to talk to us in person. He wanted to check in on us and make some suggestions to refresh our profile.

We agreed and quickly there after we were matched once again. The birthmother, Trisha, was about 5 months along and we arranged to fly out and meet her. We knew from the moment we connected this would be different. She introduced us to her daughter and grandmother, who they lived with, and let us know the baby would be biracial (African American/Caucasian). She took us on our tour of their quaint lakeside town and shared with us everything you could want to know about Michigan. She then told us how good she immediately felt when meeting us, and how she could already tell from just our previous texts back and forth that we were going to be amazing fathers to "our" baby. She also explained how they couldn't afford another person in the home, and that she just wanted this child to have a chance at a life she couldn't give him. Oh yea, and she also let us know we were going to have a baby boy.

It seemed liked we had only just returned home, when we received a call from Trisha's grandmother, informing us that Trisha had gone into labor a few weeks early. It was August 1 and nearly two years from the start of our adoption journey. We dropped everything and began the quest once again to meet a baby that could possibly become our own. We arrived in the middle of the night, and were taken straight to Trisha's room to meet our son. After hugs and some tears, Trisha said she was tired and we should take our son to our room so we could also get some rest. One room away, the medical staff had set up a new parent room just for us. The nurse showed us everything in the space from diapers to formula to extra blankets. She let us know how to get ahold of her if we needed anything at all, then asked our baby's name, wrote Alexander Reneé Trudel-Payne on the board and said goodnight.

After a few days in the hospital we were given the OK to check out. Michigan adoption laws do not allow adoption finalization for 30 days, so we opted to stay in a hotel for the first month after the birth, just in case any hiccups arose during the finalization. It was a fun adventure to learn how to parent together in a small hotel room. We became friends of the staff, built routines around the lobby and room cleanings, and fell in love with our son more and more each day.

A few days before the 30th day, we received the call that all the papers were processed and finalized. We were officially the parents of a baby boy and we were free to go home.

Ander, that's what we decided as a nickname for Alexander, is now almost 3 years old. He's handsome, kind, loves being the center of attention as much as he loves being alone flipping through books or playing with cars, he's meticulously clean, full of energy and overflowing with personality and humor. He is full of life and we are so lucky to be his fathers.

Our adoption journey was definitely far from rosy, and there is nothing I could ever say to prepare someone for a loss like we first experienced. But every time I look into Ander's eyes or hear him giggle from another room, I know that however hard the journey was, it doesn't come anywhere near to the feelings of love and joy we now have with our adoption journey complete.

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Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.

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Popular

"Under Their Spell": Congrats to all the Gay Dads Whose Families Grew in June!

Wishing all of these gay dads whose families expanded in May and June a lifetime of happiness! Congrats to everyone in our community on their recent births and adoptions!


Congratulations to dads Ben and Chris on the birth of their daughter Elizabeth!

Seattle husbands Ben and Chris welcomed daughter Elizabeth, May 18, 2019.

"We started our adoption plans last August an after getting all signed up with our agency, we were so lucky to match after only about a month and with a mom pretty close to us geographically!" shared Ben. "We've loved getting to know the birth mom and to go through this journey together, including being with her for her C-section and recovery."

Although the time in the hospital was exhausting emotionally and physically, the new dads couldn't have asked for better care or more accepting and accommodating medical staff. "When we finally met her and got to hold her, we were both in awe of how perfect she was. We're over the moon and under her spell 👨👨👧❤️"

Congratulations to dads Lance and Trevor on finalizing the adoption of their daughter Ava!

Lance and Trevan met in college in 2004 and knew right away that they were soul mates. "We always knew we wanted to be dads and started our adoption process in 2015." The Santa Monica dads welcomed little Ava into their lives in 2018.

"In our minds and hearts, she was ours from the moment we laid eyes on her," said Trevan. "Signing the final adoption papers was very emotional as it was the last step in a very long process. Seeing the smile on her face and her sweet baby giggles is the best thing about being her dad. She makes it easy and we are so lucky to be her dads."

"Our sweet Ava was worth the wait!"

Congratulations to dads Melton and Thomas on finalizing the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden!

On May 17, Florida dads Melton and Thomas celebrated the adoption of their sons Gabriel and Braiden, who join sisters Summer, Kendra and Ashanti. This loving family was created through foster to adopt.

"They are siblings and have been with us since August 2017," said Thomas. "It's been a long journey we have been on with all the kids. But a sense of relief from all of the court hearings, case manger visits, guardian ad litem visits, but all worth it in the end to be able to serve as advocates for the kids."

"Most of all, adoptions provide permanency which every child deserves."

Congratulations to dads Paul and Ken on the birth of their daughter Charlotte!

A new family of four! Paul and his husband Ken welcomed daughter Charlotte in May and their dog Gigi is already a big fan.

"All we can say is that our journey to fatherhood was a true adventure which ended in the best possible way," said Philadelphia dad Paul. "We feel so blessed to be Charlotte's dads, and are inspired by all the other gay dads who paved the way before us."

"It felt so amazing to hold Charlotte for the first time - truly an awe-inspiring experience. The feelings of love are indescribable. She is a true "rockstar" and we are so proud of her."

Congratulations to dads Ned and James on finalizing the adoption of their son Aiden! 

DC dads Ned and James have been together 8 years and always knew they wanted to be fathers. Although the adoption process talk longer than they expected - about two years - Aiden arrived very suddenly, with less than a week's notice. "We were so excited to expand our family, all the short night and everything are so worth it."

The finalization was an exciting day for the family. "It was surreal, after all the waiting, to know he was official our son," said Ned. The celebrated with a nice lunch, and they're planning for a party with close friends and family soon.

Congrats to this forever family!

Congratulations to dads Ryan and Marcin on the birth of their daughter Lexi!

Baby Lexi joins older brother Liam and their dads couldn't be more thrilled! "Lexi joined our family through open adoption, but it was a pretty unique journey," shared Ryan. "We'd only been waiting three weeks when we got a call at 5pm Saturday that a little girl had been born at the hospital closest to our home and her birthmother had chosen us."

The dads weren't expecting to be matched so quickly and literally had nothing for a newborn. "Our village of friends rallied and bought us everything we needed to welcome her home." Twenty three hours after the initial call they brought her home. "The feeling of wholeness and total love was so intense the first time we held her. We knew she was meant to complete our family."

Congrats to this Houston family!

Congratulations to dads Mike and Sean on the birth of their daughter Emilia!

Mike and Sean always knew they wanted to be dads so they started their adoption journey last September. "It has been an emotional roller coaster until the time we were selected by our birth mom," said Mike. "We are so grateful to our birth mom because of her selfless love of this child made our dream come true, especially during the pride month of June."

"The first time we held our little one, it was love at first sight and we knew that it was all worth it and it was the best feeling in the world."

Congrats to this family of three from Orlando, Florida!

Congratulations to dads Adam and Taylor on the birth of their son Sawyer!

Adam and Taylor live in Lehi, Utah, and they began their fatherhood journey through the foster care system. After four years, they decided they were ready to adopt. Their adoption journey moved very quickly, and within a week they were matched. Baby Sawyer was born six weeks later!

"Having Sawyer has been the best," shared Adam. "She is so perfect and we could not be happier! Knowing that she is ours is something that is overwhelming and so exciting! The emotions that come with the journey are a roller coaster...but when she came there has been piece of mind!"

Congratulations to dads Billy and Joe on finalizing the adoption of their son Caleb!

Billy, Joe and Caleb with mothers / grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

Billy and his husband Joe live in Union Beach, New Jersey, and they recently finalized the adoption of their son Billy. "A friend of mine from high school found out she was pregnant and did not want more children and could not care for him so wanted us to adopt," said Billy.

The dads had let folks know that they were looking to adopt so it was, as they said, a "match made in heaven."

"It was a long journey but we were in close contact; we got to go to all the doctors appointments and I was the first one to hold him, skin to skin, in the hospital when he was born and haven't left his side since."

When the adoption was finalized, it felt like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders and a lot of anxiety melted away. "

When we finally got to the finalization date it was just a weight lifted off her shoulders and a whole lot of anxiety taken. "We were just so happy to know that this beautiful baby boy will be ours forever and always"

Coming Out

How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown."

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Entertainment

How Fatherhood Has Impacted Tom Daley's Diving Career for the Better

British diver Tom Daley, and new-ish gay dad, is looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in South Korea.

British diver Tom Daley is currently in the running to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in South Korea, his fourth if he competes, at the young age of just 26.

But he also has another concern that most young gay men his age couldn't fathom—fatherhood. He and his husband, filmmaker Dustin Lance Black, recently welcomed Robbie Ray via surrogacy in June 2018.

In an interview with the Independent, Daley explained how fatherhood has changed his routine and training, which he says is often for the better.

"It has changed my life completely in all of the best ways possible," Daley said. "It has changed my perspective, the way I think about things. [My son] is the most important thing in my life, everything I do is for him, everything I think about he is at the forefront of everything."

With respect to his diving career, Daley continued, "if you have a bad day at training, or a good day, you are grounded immediately when you get home through the door because you are having cuddles or you are having to change a dirty nappy. It is the first time that I have been able to leave diving at the diving board and not think about what I need to the next day in the pool."

Whatever the challenges he faces while training, he said, "I can leave it there because you don't have time to think about diving when you are looking after a kid under one."

The strategy seems to be working in Daley's favor. He recently enjoyed his most successful FINA Diving World Series ever this past Spring in Canada, winning 12 medals across five events. And barring any major catastrophe, he is overwhelmingly expected to qualify for South Korea 2020.

And we can't wait to cheer the young dad on!

Politics

America's First Gay Dad Governor Heads Into the Lion's Den

Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently became the first elected Democrat to speak at the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver

Last Friday, American's first gay dad Governor, Jared Polis, became the first elected Democrat to speak at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, where he urged the Republican crowd to help him build a "Colorado for all."

"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."

If he was hoping for a Kumbaya moment, he didn't exactly get it. As he was called to the stage, he was greeted with a smattering of applause—while others booed and shouted for a "recall" of the Governor.

"It was almost unbearable for me to sit there to listen to his talk," Abby Johnson, one of the event's attendees, told the Denver Post. "And I'm going to tell you why. He kept talking about equality for all persons, yet we live in a society where 60 million innocent human beings have been slaughtered in the name of choice. Where is their justice? Where is their equal rights?"

Polis was also criticized from his left flank for attending the same event that refuses to let the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay GOP members, participate—and that featured Donald Trump Jr. as a speaker the same day. "To me it feels like vanity," Katie Farnan, a staffer with progressive group Indivisible, told the Denver Post. "He can go and be a hip Democratic governor who isn't afraid to go into GOP sanctuary. Or maybe it's recall insurance. But unless he was there to hold them accountable for their support for fascist and racist policies, what's the point?"

In response to the criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Polis told the Colorado Sun: "I think it's very important that Coloradans of different ideologies, different races, different geographies, different orientations and gender identities all really celebrate that we're all part of what makes Colorado great."

The event is hosted each year by Colorado Christian University to bring together conservatives from around the state, and the larger West.

What do you think, dads? Was Polis's decision to speak at the event a savvy political move or mere pandering?

Entertainment

Hate Group Boycotts 'Toy Story' for Featuring Lesbian Moms—Hilarity Ensues on Twitter

"One Million Moms" announced a boycott of the latest Toy Story movie for *very briefly* featuring lesbian moms. Twitter's response was swift and hilarious.

One Million Moms, which is affiliated with the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, recently called for a boycott of Toy Story 4 for (very, very briefly) featuring (interracial!) lesbian moms in the animated film. The angry, hateful moms affiliated with this group must have watched the film VERY closely because you could easily blink and miss the moment that apparently "blindsided" viewers.

The Internet reacted with a collective facepalm to the ridiculous boycott. Here are some of our favorite hilarious Twitter reactions to the hateful group:

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Travel

The Golden Age of Vacationing With Kids

WARNING: BUCKLE UP, YOU'RE ABOUT TO READ WAY TOO MANY GOLDEN GIRLS REFERENCES.

Ever feel like you need a vacation from your family vacation? For years, we did too. But I'm happy to report that we don't anymore. So what caused the big shift? I'll get to that. First, a little background.

For years, taking our son Max on road trips had its fair share of, shall I say, challenges. From New York City to London to San Francisco to Vegas… we traveled down the road and back again. And while we made wonderful memories along the way… these trips weren't entirely wonderful. Whether it was Max's inflexible sleep schedule, his limited food palate, potty training, his disinterest in walking or his inability to fully express himself, it never quite felt like a real vacation because we never got to actually relax. But now that Max is almost nine years old, we decided to give it another go… and so we booked a much-needed respite in Florida with one goal in mind — cheesecake — okay, two goals: we wanted to catch our breath!

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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